“We are called to be like him” Reflection for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
One of the delightful sights of an Irish Spring is a green field filled with new-born lambs. Never too far from the mother-ewes, these cute little creatures create a tableau that speaks of trust and peace and that all is well with the world. New life brings fresh hope.
Today Jesus asks his disciples to be like lambs: to be the gentle ones; meek, mild, trusting the Lord; lambs are symbols of peace. Isn’t Jesus called the Lamb of God?
And we are called to be like him, to be people of peace, to be AT peace in God’s love, and to be bearers of peace as we connect with others. We’re unlikely to say ‘peace be with you’ when we arrive on someone’s doorstep, but people will very quickly pick up whether we’re bringers of peace or dissension, or, to put it differently, of ease or dis-ease, of goodness or scandal, of good cheer or gloom.
Jesus gives a few more bits of travel advice as he commissions his disciples. They’re to travel in pairs. We’re not asked to go it alone, to be lone rangers warding off the wolves. We’re in it together, giving strength and courage to each other on the journey.
Journey means movement: Go, says Jesus, don’t stay where you are, in the comfort zone of the familiar, within the small circle of aquaintances, locked into your own ideas; stuck in your old traditions; Rather, go, move, leave the well-worn paths and venture out along new ways to where there are new needs.
But travel light: don’t be weighed down or distracted by the non-essentials; nor carry airs and graces, or judgements and prejudices or whatever it is that gets in the way of an open encounter. We’re asked to go as we are, and meet others as they are. To be authentic.
And so there is no place for superficiality. Genuine encounter is not achieved by glib words, but by touching people’s lives. So STAY in the house where you’re welcomed, says Jesus, accept the hospitaliy that’s offered; enter into relationship. It requires trust and humility and openness and time. It costs. But that is the only place where you will announce the Gospel, BE Good news.
Nowhere does Jesus say it’s going to be easy. He’s leaves no doubt about the challenges and pitfalls. But from him we learn that it is selflessness that births new life; forgiveness that leads to new opportunities; mercy and compassion that drive out the demons.
They are the Christian values that give hope for the future.